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Pacers Host Bulls In Divisional Matchup

The Pacers and Bulls will bookend this weekend with games on Friday and Monday.

The Pacers and Bulls will bookend this weekend with games on Friday and Monday.

Bitter rivals collide tonight as the Chicago Bulls visit the Indiana Pacers in the NBA’s Central Division.

Tip-off at Bankers Life Fieldhouse is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET.

In the first of two head-to-head matchups in four days, Indiana (50-18, 31-4 home) will look to find some stability following a somewhat rocky patch by beating its fierce division rivals.

The Pacers saw a four-game winning streak come to a close on Wednesday night as the surging New York Knicks took a 92-86 victory at Madison Square Garden.

The defeat left players and staff frustrated and desperately seeking the reasons the team has been slowing down as the playoff approach. Frank Vogel’s side is just 4-5 over the last nine games, and has gone 0-4 against teams with a winning record since defeating the Portland Trail Blazers on February 7.

The Pacers are about to face a tough stretch in which they’ll play seven of the next eight against teams above .500. They’ll also play 10 of the remaining 14 against teams in playoff contention. Practically running the gauntlet, the Pacers are going to need to buck that trend if they’re to hold on to the coveted No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference, a position they currently occupy three games ahead of the Miami Heat.

And it begins with Friday night’s game against the Bulls.

Like Indiana, Chicago (38-30, 17-17 road) has had its share of struggles lately.

The team squeezed past the lowly Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, earning a 102-94 victory as the Sixers fell to a 22nd consecutive defeat. That victory gave the Bulls a 5-4 record over the last nine games, a record that while perfectly respectable is somewhat lacking compared to how well the team had been playing.

However, unlike Indiana, Chicago has a fairly easy run in, with just five of its last 14 games coming against playoff contenders. Two of those games will be against the Pacers as the two sides meet again this coming Monday (8:00 p.m. ET) in the Windy City.

The Bulls handed the Pacers their first loss of the season back on November 16, having lost earlier in the month. Tom Thibodeau’s side would love nothing more than to hand their rivals another defeat on Friday night.

But Chicago has struggled at Bankers Life Fieldhouse of late, losing three straight and four of their last five at the Indianapolis arena. Picking up a win against the NBA’s best team at home won’t come easy.

If the Bulls do in fact win, they can take over third place in the Eastern Conference, providing the Toronto Raptors fall at home to the Oklahoma City Thunder in one of Friday’s other matchups.

Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers odds for 03/21/2014

Indiana (-200) opened as the favorite over Chicago (+180) on the moneyline.

The Bulls have won two of the last three against the Pacers but, as documented above, haven’t played well in Indianapolis.

The spread opened at 5.5.

Chicago (34-34-0 ATS) and Indiana (34-33-1 ATS) have posted almost identical records against the spread this season, with both sitting right at the .500 mark when it comes to covering.

The Bulls are 17-17-0 ATS on the road while Indiana s 19-15-0 ATS at home. The two sides have each covered the spread once in the head-to-head series so far this season.

The Pacers have failed to cover the spread in five straight games and are just 1-4-0 ATS over the last five head-to-head meetings with Chicago, which could mean the Bulls are the better bet on Friday night.

The over/under opened at 181.

Chicago (28-40-0) has seen the total go under more than any other team in the NBA. Indiana (29-37-2) has also favored the under on the season.

The total has gone under in nine of the last 13 head-to-head meetings, and four of the last six the two sides have played in Indianapolis.

The Bulls and Pacers will finish the regular season portion of their head-to-head series on Monday night in Chicago.

For a full list of today’s NBA odds, click here.

For the latest NBA futures odds, click here.

For the latest NBA team prop bets, click here.

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